BMW-Mercedes Break up is bad news for Intel/Mobileye

Photo above: BMW impression of highway autonomous driving

Less than a year since the German Automotive giants BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz AG agreed to work together on a joint development program of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems and automated driving, they decided to halt the cooperation and to take different paths. Last week they announced that they are putting their cooperation in automated driving “temporarily on hold”.

Intel/BMW vs Mercedes/NVIDIA

For Intel and Mobileye (owned by Intel) it was a great opportunity: They both have a long and deep cooperation with BMW Group in all aspects of Autonomous Driving, and the agreement could secure their dominant position in the German car industry. “We have systematically further developed our technology and scalable platform with partners like Intel, Mobileye, FCA and Ansys,” said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management of BMW. “Our current technology, with extremely powerful sensors and computing power, puts us in an excellent position.”

But those hopes were short lived: “Digitalization is a major strategic pillar for Mercedes-Benz. To prepare for the future challenges of a rapidly changing environment, we are currently also sounding out other possibilities with partners outside the automotive sector,” said Markus Schäfer, Board Member of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz.

And it turned out that one of these “partners” is NVIDIA – a bitter competitor of Intel and Mobileye. On Tuesday, June 23, they announced a cooperation to create a revolutionary in-vehicle computing system and AI computing infrastructure. Starting in 2024, this will be rolled out across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The new software-defined architecture will be built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform and will be standard in Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation fleet. But there is a twist: NVIDIA and Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop the AI and automated vehicle applications for SAE level 2 and 3 – far below the ambitious goal of the original BMW/Mercedes coalition.

NIO to Build Mobileye’s Autonomous Taxi

By Yohai Schwiger, Techtime

Mobileye and the Chinese electric vehicle producer, NIO, are engaging in a strategic collaboration on the development of highly automated and autonomous vehicles (AV) for consumer markets in China and other major territories. As part of the planned cooperation, NIO will engineer and manufacture a self-driving system designed by Mobileye, building on its Level 4 (L4) AV kit. NIO will mass-produce the system for Mobileye and also integrate the technology into its electric vehicle lines for consumer markets and for Mobileye’s driverless ride-hailing services. NIO’s variants will target initial release in China, with plans to expand later into other global markets.

With NIO serving as its manufacturing partner, Mobileye’s self-driving system will be accessible to mass markets. NIO is the first large-scale automaker partner supplying vehicles to Mobileye’s future robotaxi fleet. By the collaboration with Mobileye, NIO aims to strength its position in the premium electric vehicle market.

Under the planned collaboration, Mobileye will provide the design of the self-driving system: L4 AV kit comprised of the Mobileye EyeQ system-on-chip, hardware, driving policy, safety software and mapping solution. NIO will provide engineering, integration and mass-production of Mobileye’s system for both consumer markets and for Mobileye’s mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) applications. NIO will also develop a variant of electric AV that Mobileye will use as robotaxis, deployed for ride-hailing services in global markets.

Cars in the Mobileye fleet of autonomous vehicles leave the Mobileye garage in Jerusalem, for test drives
Cars in the Mobileye fleet of autonomous vehicles leave the Mobileye garage in Jerusalem, for test drives

Mobileye’s AV kit

The L4 AV kit is a driverless technology solution designed to be integrated in vehicles with autonomous capabilities. It offers the necessary hardware to enable full autonomy in vehicles, including cameras, radars, lidars, cables, modem, GPS and additional mechanical components, all powered by the 5th generation EyeQ system-on-chip.

Mobileye’s proprietary reinforcement learning algorithms enable human-like driving skills for vehicle systems. Mobileye’s driving policy technology allows vehicles equipped with the AV kit, to negotiate with other human-driven vehicles on the road in complex situations.

Mobileye’s driving policy is complemented by Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) model, which helps ensure an autonomous vehicle will make safe decisions. RSS is an open and transparent formal model that provides safety parameters for AV decision-making, formalizing common sense human-centered concepts of what it means to drive safely. While the planning behind driving policy gets vehicles from Point A to Point B, RSS helps keep them safe along the way.

Mobileye, an Intel company, builds on its current ADAS systems to build autonomous driving systems. In the 2019’s third quarter, Mobileye achieved record quarter with 20% revenue growth, reaching $229 million revenues. Today, it powers ADAS systems in 300 car models with 27 OEM partners, and by the end of 2019, Mobileye expects to reach more than 50 million EyeQ chips shipped since 2008.